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Hippolytus and the Roman Church in the Third Century: Communities in Tension Before the Emergence of a Monarch-Bishop (Supplements to Vigiliae Chris) [Hardcover]

By Allen Brent (Author)
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Item Number 197128  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   611
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.61" Width: 6.69" Height: 1.81"
Weight:   2.78 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 1995
Publisher   Brill Academic Publishers
ISBN  9004102450  
EAN  9789004102453  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Allen Brent examines the significance of the Hippolytan events in the life of the Roman Church in the early third century. Developing the thesis of at least two authors in the Hippolytan corpus, he proposes a new, redactional explanation of the relation between these different authors and the theological and social tensions to which their work bears witness. Brent reconstructs a picture of the community that contextualizes both the Hippolytan literature and in particular the Statue, for which he proposes a new interpretation as a community artefact though universally misjudged as a monument to an individual. Tertullian's relationship with Callistus is finally re-assessed. This work is thus an important contribution to new understandings of a period critical both for the development of Church Order and embryonic Trinitarian Orthodoxy.

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More About Allen Brent

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Professor Allen Brent, formerly Professor in History, James Cook University of North Queensland, Australia, now member of the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge and Senior Member of St. Edmund's College. His books include Cultural Episcopacy and Ecumenism (Brill 1992), Hippolytus and the Roman Church in the Third Century (Brill 1995), The Imperial Cult and the Development of Church Order (Brill 1999).

Allen Brent has published or released items in the following series...
  1. T&T Clark Theology

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The Hippolytus question  Mar 26, 2004
There is perhaps no greater riddle in ante-Nicean studies than the Hippolytus question. Beginning with Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History and passing into the florilegia, commentaries, and chronicles of the Byzantine world, doubts and speculations as to the provenance and authorship of the traditional corpus can be detected. Döllinger's nineteenth century hypothesis of a Hippolytus Romanus, the first "anti-pope" and author of a diverse body of Greek Christian literature, achieved canonical status among patristics scholars by the early twentieth century and continues to exert a strong influence over the field. Brent's scholarship is a child of this critical tradition, but with important emendations. The "anti-pope" idea has long since gone by the boards, and Brent is no exception. But in Brent's revision, the notion of a maladjusted Roman ecclesiastic who took on all comers has reached its ultimate reversal. Hippolytus of Rome, the "presbyter" and author, is depicted as the antithesis of a puritanical dissenter and has achieved the sublime status of an inter-denominational reconciler.

Neither is the nineteenth century view of the corpus accepted without significant deletions. Here the name of Pierre Nautin looms large. Brent takes seriously, as he should, the textual studies of the late forties and fifties, in which Nautin sought to establish the division of the corpus between two writers, one a Hippolytus Orientalis, the bishop of an unknown see, the other the ever-shadowy figure of Josephus of Rome. For Brent the corpus is to be divided, but between two Roman authors, indeed, between two members of the same "house-school." The first, in acrimony as well as in time, remains anonymous, but the second is the tender and repentant Hippolytus, who sought throughout his writings (contra Noetum, in Danielem, de antichristo) to re-align the thought of his disaffected community with that of the wider Roman outlook. His editorial hand, according to Brent, can even be discerned in the works of his rambunctious predecessor, some of which were preserved incorrectly under Hippolytus' name. These works include a chronographical composition, parts of which found their way onto the side of the now-famous Roman statue which even today resides in the Vatican Library, an eschatological treatise de Universo, and the problem-child of the corpus, the text now known as the refutatio omnium haeresium, never transmitted under Hippolytus' name.

But Brent's deeper interests lie in his attempt to link particular sociological realities with the texts and to show how text and social analysis might combine to reorient our understanding of the early Roman communities. Remaining true to the Döllinger hypothesis in its broadest outlines, especially in its view that the principal extant documents were composed in Rome, he sets about to delineate Hippolytus' role in a "fractionalized" Church (P. Lampe's term). As a means of social reconstruction, he suggests several new and brilliant solutions to age-old Hippolytan problems, the most interesting of which is his proposal that the statue's title list, usually taken as the catalogue of a Hippolytus Romanus, represents the literary works of not one, but of several ancient authors (115-203). Not necessarily related to this project, but necessary to interpreting the statue as the symbol of a Church community, is his attempt to refute Margherita Guarducci's suggestion that the original venue of the statue was the library of the emperor Alexander Severus (222-235 C.E.) and her skepticism regarding the reliability of the records left by Pirro Ligorio, its sixteenth century discoverer. This he undertakes in detail and at length (3-115).

Brent's findings can be summarized as follows: (1) Rome's "fractionalized" Church is best explained by the existence of "house-schools," each with its own "president" who bore episcopal authority. (2) Callistus, one such "president," and the author of the refutatio, another "president," clashed when Callistus admitted the excommunicated members of other house-schools to membership in his own school. Callistus was attempting to create a monarchical episcopate by his actions, demonstrating that monarchical episcopacy had not yet emerged in Rome (contra Lampe). (3) Hippolytus inherited the leadership of the community which had resisted Callistus' claims (368-457). He modified its theological concepts in the direction of Monarchianism, amended its paschal teachings, and generally attempted to adapt his own thinking to the new organizational realities of the Roman Church. The important traditio apostolica is part of a later pseudonymous stream of literature with unclear tributaries (184-97, 301-7, 458-540).

Brent's study is required reading for Hippolytan scholars, for those working in ante-Nicean studies, and for students of early ecclesiology. Unfortunately typographical errors abound and in some sections syntax is not a strength. But as the first grand-scale work in English in this century on the Hippolytus question, the significance of this complex and erudite book cannot be over-rated.

John A. Cerrato


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